Frog of the Week

Eungella Torrent Frog (Taudactylus eungellensis)

Eungella Torrent Frog
photo by Geordie Torr

Common Name: Eungella Torrent Frog and Eungella Day Frog
Scientific Name: Taudactylus eungellensis
Family: Myobatrachidae – Australian Ground Frog Family
Locations: Australia
Size: 1.25 – 1.45 inches (32 – 37 mm)

The Eungella Torrent Frog lives near streams in rain forests and sclerophyll forests of the Eungella National Forest in Queensland. They are most active during the day (diurnal) but they do also call at night. The females are larger than the males, a common trait in frogs and toads.

The breeding season takes place from spring to fall. The males call out to attract the females to them. The female lays between 30 – 50 eggs under rocks in the water.

Conservation of the Eungella Torrent Frog

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Eungella Torrent Frog as a Critically Endangered species. Once considered a common species, the frog’s populations have been declining. This is primarily due to Chytrid Fungus, a deadly disease for frogs and toads. The disease thickens the skin of the frog, making it harder for the frog to transport nutrients so they then die. There has been suggestions for the reason for decline such as habitat loss and invasive species, but there is no evidence to confirm these claims.

Frog of the Week

Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog (Rana kauffeldi)

Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog
photo by Brian R Curry

Common Name: Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog or Mid-Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog
Scientific Name: Rana kauffeldi
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States – Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia
Size: 5.1 inches (13 cm)

The Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog lives near coastal habitats. The majority of the species lives within 13 miles of the coast. The frog is relatively new species to western science, only being described in 2014. The species epithet is named after herpetologist Carl Kauffeld who wrote a paper about how he believed there was a third species of leopard frog in Staten Island way back in the 30s. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List didn’t give the frog a conservation status yet due to it being so new. The Atlantic Coast Leopard Frog looks similar to other leopard frogs. They have less and small spots on their dorsal than the other leopard frogs.

The frogs breed in the winter and early spring, usually February or March. The more south the species lives, the earlier it breeds. The males gather in groups and call out from shallow water bodies to attract the female frogs. Once the female frogs arrive, the male grasps her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. The female lays around a thousand eggs. Neither of the parents provide any care for their offspring.

Frog of the Week

New Jersey Chorus Frog (Pseudacris kalmi)

Two New Jersey Chorus Frogs
photo by Will Lattea

Common Name: New Jersey Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris kalmi
Family: Hylidae– Tree Frog family
Locations: United States – Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia
Size: 1.1 – 1.4 inches (28 – 36 mm)

The New Jersey Chorus Frog lives mostly in marshes, meadows, and woodlands. Like many of the Chorus Frog in the US, they have 3 pronounced lines that run down their back. Even though they are part of the Tree Frog family, most chorus frogs spend most of their time on the ground or very low to the ground vegetation;

The breeding season lasts from February to June. The frogs mate in temporary ponds created by the melting snow. First, the male calls out to attract the females. Next, the female arrives and the male grasps her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. The female lays between 8 and 143 eggs. Neither parent will look after their eggs or offspring.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the New Jersey Chorus Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. This is due to the frog having a decent range, presumed large population, and being very tolerable to habitat modification. However, they are listed as a endangered species in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and a Species of Greatest Conservation Need-Tier 4a in Virginia.

Frog of the Week

Cave Coqui (Eleutherodactylus cooki)

Cave Coquí
photo by Luis J. Villanueva-Rivera
Conservation status is Endangered

Common Name: Cave Coqui, Puerto Rican Cave Frog, Puerto Rican Demon, and Coquí Guajón
Scientific Name: Eleutherodactylus cooki
Family: Eleutherodactylidae
Locations: Puerto Rico
Size: 3.3 inches (8.5 cm)

The Cave Coqui lives in caves, rock grottos, and rocky stream beds. The females are larger than the males. The males have a yellow colored throat and down to the belly. During the mating season (summer and fall), the frogs mate and lay their eggs on boulder surfaces. The female lays on average 17 eggs. The males provide parental care for their eggs by guarding them. The male doesn’t stop mating when protecting the eggs. Its been shown that the males can protect up to 4 different female’s nests. The eggs are direct developing, so once the egg hatches, a froglet comes out, skipping the tadpole stage.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Cave Coqui as Endangered. The United States federal government only lists the species as threatened. They only live in a small area in the southeastern part of Puerto Rico. Human development threatens the frog’s habitat. Also, tick and Chytrid Fungus, a deadly fungal disease, are also harming the frogs.

Researcher Samantha Shablin, a Phd Student at the University of Florida, hopes to help protect the Cave Coqui. She fundraising for her research project that aims to understand how the frogs are responding to parasitic and environmental threats. You can help fund this project by donating at https://experiment.com/projects/how-are-cave-dwelling-amphibians-responding-to-parasitic-and-environmental-threats

Frog of the Week

European Tree Frog (Hyla arborea)

European Tree Frog
photo by Christian Fischer
least concern

Common Name: European Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Hyla arborea
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog Family
Location: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine.
Introduced Location: United Kingdom
Male Size: 1.3–1.7 inches (32 – 43 mm)
Female Size: 1.6 – 2.0 inches (40 – 50 mm)

The European Tree Frog lives throughout most of Europe and down to the northern parts of the Middle East. They prefer to live in broad-leafed and mixed forests, bushlands, meadows, and shrubland. The frogs vary in color from green, gray, brown, and yellowish.

Mating occurs between March and June. First, the males move to ponds, lakes, and other stagnant water bodies and start calling. Once a female arrives, the male grasps her from behind in amplexus. Then, the female lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. The female lays between 200 – 2000 eggs. Neither parent provides any parental care. The eggs hatch into tadpoles in 10 – 14 days after being laid. Then, the tadpoles usually complete their metamorphosis in 3 months, peaking in July.

European Tree Frog
photo by wikiuser RobertC1301

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes he European Tree Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a wide range and are thought to be abundant throughout it. There are local population declines due to habitat loss from destroying forests to make room for urban development.

Frog of the Week

Climbing Mantella (Mantella laevigata)

Climbing Mantella
photo by Frank Vassen

Common Name: Climbing Mantella, Arboreal Mantella, Green-backed Mantella, and Folohy Golden Frog
Scientific Name: Mantella laevigata
Family: Mantellidae – Mantella family
Locations: Madagascar
Size: 0.86 – 1.14 inches (22-29 mm)

Just like all other Mantellas, the Climbing Mantella is found on the island of Madagascar. Specially, they are found in the rain forests, bamboo forests, and wooded forests in northeastern region. They are active during the day (diurnal), like all Mantellas.

The Climbing Mantella is one of the only arboreal species of Mantella. They can climb up to 4 meters high in trees and are often found on plants. They don’t even breed on the ground. During breeding season, the males call out during the day to attract the females. The males are territorial and will fight males that enter their land. However, some males do not defend their territory.

The males call out from raised platforms to attract female. Once a female arrives, the male puts his chin on the top of her head as a courtship display. Then, the male leads the female to a well in the vegetation. Once in there, the male grasps the female around the armpits (axillary amplexus) from behind. Next, the female lays only one eggs in the well and the male fertilizes it. The male stays at the well, hoping to attract more mates and to protect the eggs. The female leaves but often comes back to lay an unfertilized egg for the tadpole to eat.

Mantella frogs are very similar to Poison Dart Frogs. Both display bright colors to show off their toxic taste. They both don’t produce their own poison, they accumulate their poisons for their diet of ants.

Climbing Mantella Conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Climbing Mantella as Least Concern for Extinction. The frog is abundant in its habitat though there are some threats on the horizon. Increased deforestation due to creating more farms, grazing areas for cattle, and towns is a serious future threat. Also, the harvesting of the frogs for the pet trade is another serious threat to their survival.

New Species

New Species of Salamander from North Carolina – Carolina Sandhills Salamander

Carolina Sandhills Salamander
Carolina Sandhills Salamander (Eurycea arenicola) – photo by L Todd Pusser

North Carolina is home to the most salamander species in the United States, a whopping 63 species! Now, thanks to researchers, the number moves up to 64! The southeastern United States, especially the Appalachian Mountain, is the salamander capitol of the world.

This discovery was 50 years in the making. An unusual salamander species was brought to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Originally, it was thought to be a weird Southern Two-lined Salamander (Eurycea cirrigera). More specimens were collected and curator Alvin Braswell thought it could be a new species. Sadly, he was too busy to pursue the research.

Southern Two-lined Salamander – photo by wikiuser Hargle

In comes Bryan Stuart, research curator of herpetology, who join the museum in 2008. Braswell told him of the salamander and wanted him to research it. Stuart was able to use next generation sequencer to determine that the species was new. He formally described the species as the Carolina Sandhills Salamander (Eurycea arenicola). The salamander is found near the seepages, springs and streams of the Sandhills of North Carolina. The Carolina Sandhills Salamander is red to orange in color. They don’t have a the dark band on its side like the Southern Two-lined Salamander do. These salamanders are pretty small ranging from 2.2 – 3.5 inches (56. -89.1 mm) from snout to tail.

You can read the full paper at https://bioone.org/journals/herpetologica/volume-76/issue-4/0018-0831-76.4.423/A-New-Two-Lined-Salamander-Eurycea-bislineata-Complex-from-the/10.1655/0018-0831-76.4.423.short

Frog of the Week

Limosa Harlequin Frog (Atelopus limosus)

Limosa Harlequin Frog
photo by Brian Gratwicke

Common Name: Limosa Harlequin Frog
Scientific Name: Atelopus limosus
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: Panama
Size: 1 – 1.6 inches (26.5 – 40.2 mm)

The Limosa Harlequin Frog lives amongst slopes of rocky streams in the forests of central Panama. Their bright colors warn predators of their toxicity, allowing them to be active during the day. There are two different morphs of the species. The lowland morph has a brown color with yellow fingertips. Meanwhile, the highland morph is green and yellow with a black V on its back. The females generally have a red / orange colored belly.

Limosa Harlequin Frog Conservation

The Harlequin Frogs(Atelopus) are one of the most endangered group of frogs in the world and sadly, the Limosa Harlequin Frog doesn’t fair any better. Additionally, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies the frog as Critically Endangered. It is estimated that 80% of the population will die off One of the main reason for the declines is the invasive fungal pathogen Chytrid Fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). This pathogen causes the skin of the frog to harden. Due to frogs only breathing through their skin, this causes them to suffocate and die. The loss of habitat for urban development and farms is another reason for the declines. At last, pollution from gold mining isn’t helping either.

To help ensure that the Limosa Harlequin Frog survives, researchers at the Smithsonian Institute and the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project have taken some of the frogs into captivity. They are raising frogs and tadpoles to release into the wild as well as keeping an emergency group in place.

croctober

Black Caiman (Melanosuchus niger)

Black Caimen
photo by wikiuser Rigelus

Common Name: Black Caiman
Scientific Name: Melanosuchus niger
Family: Alligatoridae – Alligator family
Locations: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, and Peru
Size: 7.25 – 14.1 feet (2.2 to 4.3 meters) , can grow to 16.5 feet (5 meters)

The Black Caiman is the largest living species of caiman, capable of reaching 16.5 feet long and reaching over a thousand pounds! They live in the Amazon River Basin, where they are one of the apex predators there. Once the Black Caiman reaches full size, only humans attempt to hunt them. The caiman feeds on a variety of animals such as snakes, fish, monkeys, frogs, and even other caiman. They hunt at night, where their excellent night vision help out.

At the end of the dry season, the females start to build their nests of soil and vegetation. Additionally, these nests are almost 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and 2 and a half feet (0.75 meters) wide. At the start of the wet season (May – June), the caiman lays between 30 – 60 eggs. The mother protects her nests from predators until they hatch. The eggs hatch between 42 – 90 days after being laid. The mother helps dig the hatchlings out of the nest. Then, the offspring stick close to their mom. Even with their mom’s protection, a large number of the offspring die.

Black Caiman Conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Black Caiman as Conservation Dependent. The IUCN Red List no longer uses this category. The caiman’s status hasn’t been reassessed since 2000 when they were placed there. Before, they were categorized as endangered due to over hunting of the species. Hunting of the species has slowed down thanks to legal protections.

croctober

American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)

American Crocodile
photo by wikiuser Mattstone911

Common Name: American Crocodile
Scientific Name: Crocodylus acutus
Family: Crocodylidae – Crocodile Family
Locations: Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, United States, Venezuela, and Bolivia
US Location: Florida
Average Male Size: 9.5 – 13.1 feet (2.9 – 4 meters)
Average Female Size: 8.2 – 9.8 feet (2.5 -3 meters)
Maximum Size: 20 feet (6.1 meters)

The American Crocodile has the most widespread range of any crocodile in the Americas. They reach from southern Florida, through Central America, and down to northern South America. They live in fresh or brackish water of estuaries, lagoons, and mangrove swamps.

The American Crocodile breeds during the dry season. The males are highly territorial and fight other males for the best land. The courtship and breeding takes place in the water. The male’s main advertisement to females is 1 to 3 headslaps. If this is acceptable for the female, then she either puts her head on his back / head or performs some snout lifts. Next, the male lets out a low frequency noise that makes water blow up off of his back, called water dancing. Finally, the two mate in the shallows.

The female builds their nests on elevated, well drained soil. The female lays between 30 – 60 eggs. Temperature determines the sex of the offspring. Temperatures between 88- 91° F (31.1 – 32.7° C) produce mostly male offspring. Meanwhile, temperatures lower than 88° F (31.1° C) result in mostly females. The female parent protect the nest from scavengers such as raccoons and iguanas. The eggs hatch in 75 – 80 days at the start of the wet season. The female helps dig ups the hatched babies and carries them to the water.

American Crocodile Conservation

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies the American Crocodile as Vulnerable to Extinction. The Croc’s populations has improved than it previously had been. It was listed as Endangered before conservation work was done to help save them. Unfortunately, they were over-hunted for their hides before being listed on the US Endangered Species List in the 1970s. However, they moved from listed as federally endangered to federally threatened. Protections are still in place to help conserve the species from overharvesting. Unfortunately, their habitat is under threat of destruction to make room for more urban areas.